Aidan O’Brien bids for a remarkable Group One treble in the space of just over an hour in Britain and Ireland tomorrow.
The Ballydoyle trainer has fancied runners in all three feature races with bookmakers Stan James quoting him at 14-1 to do the hat-trick.
That figure is the outsider of the four possibilities with one win the favourite at evens. It is 9-4 against him drawing a blank or picking up two of the lucrative prizes on offer.
O’Brien’s attempt to scoop all three big events begins at 2.40pm when Lillie Langtry lines-up in the Coolmore Fusaichi Pegasus Matron Stakes at Leopardstown.
At 3.35pm Starspangledbanner heads the betting for the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock before the final leg, Rip Van Winkle in the Tattersalls Millions Irish Champion Stakes, just 10 minutes later back at the Dublin track.
O’Brien played down the chances of Lillie Langtry, who returns to action after disappointing in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s July meeting.
“Maybe those two runs in the Irish Guineas and the Coronation Stakes backed up caught up with her a bit in Newmarket. After that run we gave her a break and she has done very well,” he said.
“We’ve been happy with her but she’s just ready to start again. We’re hoping she’ll run a nice race but it is her first run after a break.
“We’re just getting her back on the ladder again and hope she’s in good form and runs a real nice race and that she progresses from it.”
O’Brien is responsible for half of the six-strong field for the Irish Champion Stakes at 3.50pm, led by Juddmonte International Stakes victor Rip Van Winkle, the mount of stable jockey Johnny Murtagh, who is backed up by Cape Blanco and Beethoven.
“We’ve been letting Rip Van Winkle progress at his own pace and we’ve been happy with him since York so we are looking forward to Saturday,” he went on.
“We’ve been very happy with Cape Blanco as well. He has been progressing well. We were delighted with him in the Irish Derby and he ran a great race in Ascot.
“We always felt maybe a mile and a quarter was his best trip, but we want to learn more tomorrow. He’s a very tough, genuine, classy horse and a mile and a quarter on fast ground should suit him very well.
“He’s in very good form and he’s a horse that’s also progressing well.
“He was stride for stride with the Derby winner (Workforce) and that set it up nicely for Harbinger at Ascot. We’ve been delighted with him since.”
Hopes in the middle leg of the ambitious treble rest with Starspangledbanner in the Betfred Sprint Cup at Haydock.
“He ran a great race at York (second to Sole Power in the Nunthorpe Stakes),” O’Brien continued.
“He just got a little bit in limbo land for most of the race. He was between the bunch and the rail. Over five furlongs everything has to go 100% right all the time and a second or two being caught in no man’s land can be costly.
“This race just comes up nicely for him. Over six furlongs you have a little bit more time. Over five furlongs on fast ground at York you don’t have any time.
“He hasn’t done a whole lot since. All he’s been doing is cantering. We’re happy with him but you’re never really sure until they run how well they are, but he’s a very consistent horse.
“You have to remember his season started in Australia. He’s such a tough, hardy horse and seems to keep bouncing back.
“He had three or four runs before he came to us so the season is very long for him.
“He is only flesh and blood and sometimes races can catch up. We are bringing back a bit quick after a tough race at York, but he seems in good form and he should be very happy over that trip and on that ground,” he told At The Races.